The team, heralding from Amir Kabir University of Technology in Tehran, published their result in the journal, Powder Technology, and noted that the use of waste cotton fibers for the production of cellulose nanoparticles is among the more interesting points in this research.
Cellulose is one of the most abundant organic polymers and due to its polyelectrolyte characteristics in nano form; it is often used in personal care applications such as in conditioners; as well as in a host of other industries such as food and pharmaceuticals.
The research team says that in addition to biodegradability and the ability to be recovered and re-used, cellulose nanoparticles are light and cheap, and they have very desirable mechanical properties, giving them high potential in cosmetics..
"In this project, spherical cellulose nanoparticles were produced from waste cotton fibers through enzyme hydrolysis and ultrasound methods,” says Dr Tayyebeh Fattahi Mei-abadi, one of the researchers.
He explains that acidic hydrolysis is usually used in the majority of the research on the production of cellulose nanoparticles, and that this method is not in agreement with environmental issues, and it leaves byproducts.
“But in this research, enzyme hydrolysis method was used, which enables the production of nanoparticles under mild condition without any environmental damage, and it does not require specific equipment,” Dr Mei-Abadi continues.
“In addition, ultrasonic process was carried out with low energy in a short period, which makes cost-effective the production of cellulose nanoparticles through this method."
During the research, in the production of the nanoparticles, various parts of cellulose enzyme were attached to cellulose chains, and they started to hydrolyze crystalline and amorphous areas.
As hydrolysis goes on, particles with average size of 520 nm are formed. Then, ultrasound energy converts the hydrolyzed fibers into nanoparticles at about 70 nm in size.